Judge Weighing N.C. Prisoner Hand-Held Video Camera Requirement


North Carolina state attorneys asked a federal judge Friday not to require Central Prison staffers to use a hand-held video camera to record how some prisoners subdued by guards are returned to their cells, saying it could be expensive and too burdensome. The recommendation to use the cameras was among five suggested in January by a court-appointed expert, a former corrections administrator who assessed video security-system upgrades in a prison section where disciplined prisoners are held in solitary confinement.

The expert’s recommendations were spurred by a lawsuit filed by prisoners who allege officers systematically carried out beatings in a secluded area of Unit One not covered by surveillance cameras.

The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state’s prison system, denies any abuse occurred. The department agreed with the experts on four other recommended changes, including installing additional cameras in Unit One and keeping a written maintenance schedule on the cameras’ upkeep, according to court documents.

But State Assistant Attorney General Jodi Harrison told U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle that the recommendation to require the hand-held video cameras at the Raleigh maximum-security prison could cost millions of dollars.

“This is not a simple fix. This is an expensive fix,” Harrison said. “We’re talking about substantially revising the use of force policy.”

Prison officials already added mounted security cameras last spring, court documents show. But Elizabeth Simpson, an attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, said those aren’t good enough […]

Source: charlotteobserver.com